12 November 2013 2:07 AM, PST | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

The Hunger Games” featured kids killing kids for sport. Its sequel, the far superior “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” rewrites the rules, which not only makes for a more exciting death match, but also yields a rich sociopolitical critique in the process, in keeping with the incendiary subtext of Suzanne Collins’ dystopian novel. Though technically just the bridge between the lower-budget original and the two-part finale still to come, in director Francis Lawrence’s steady hands (gone are the previous film’s needlessly spastic camera moves), “Catching Fire” makes for rousing entertainment in its own right, leaving fans riled and ready to storm the castle. Massive international interest should leave Lionsgate with coffers full and money to burn.

If “Catching Fire” were a traditional studio sequel, one could reasonably expect a bigger, bloodier elimination contest to take centerstage — more of the same, presumably amplified by the extra $50 million or so »


- Peter Debruge

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